Kay C Dee, associate dean of learning and technology and professor of biomedical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, has been selected an inspiring leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

The 2017 Inspiring Leaders of STEM Award recognizes education professionals from underrepresented groups for making a difference in STEM fields through mentorship, teaching, research, and organizing successful programs and initiatives. Dee will be among 40 people featured in the September issue of the magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

Dee was a first-generation college student who managed to scrape together enough scholarships and loans to pay tuition bills each year that were always higher than her single mother’s annual salary. Remembering those hardships, Dee has reached out to assist students from similar economic backgrounds to realize their career goals.

Women in engineering were a rarity when Dee was an undergraduate student and her first class taught by a female engineering professor came during Dee’s senior year of college. Now, she is one of eight female professors in Rose-Hulman’s Department of Biology and Biomedical Engineering, which she led as interim head from 2015 to 2017. The department has a percentage of female students that’s higher than the national average of gender diversity in undergraduate engineering program enrollment. Dee has been a longtime participant in the Engineer Girl website, regularly answering questions posed by young women around the country who are interested in learning more about biomedical engineering.

“Resilience, grit, focus, creativity and a mischievous joy in working around the system—and then making the system better—have kept me going,” said Dee, a member of the Rose-Hulman faculty since 2004. “I am delighted to see the increased diversity of STEM students today. We have more work to do to create inclusive STEM learning environments, and creating a broader range of engaged STEM professionals and educators will help achieve our goals.”

Professionally, Dee has been named a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, based on her specialization in tissue-biomaterial interactions. Her work elucidated initial approaches in what is now a well-established field of research: the chemical modification of biomaterial surfaces to encourage clinically-relevant cellular functions. As this field grew, relevant educational materials for students were needed, so Dee co-authored an undergraduate textbook that has become a highly cited publication among education colleagues.

Dee also is a founding member of a Rose-Hulman faculty group that has organized Making Academic Change Happen workshops, bringing research-based change strategies and skills to higher education faculty and administrators in the United States and around the world.

“We know many of those working in STEM fields, especially those from underrepresented groups, are not always recognized for their success, dedication and mentorship to others,” said Lenore Pearlstein, owner and publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “We want to honor the many professionals who are inspirations to their colleagues, their community and to young people who may be interested in a future career in STEM. We are proud to honor these leaders as role models to all.”

This is the second consecutive year that a Rose-Hulman faculty member has received the Inspiring Leaders of STEM Award. Carlotta Berry, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, was recognized in 2016.

About Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Founded in 1874, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is dedicated to preparing its students with the world’s best undergraduate science, engineering and mathematics education in an environment infused with innovation, intellectual rigor and individualized attention. The Institute is consistently recognized nationally as an elite STEM school for distinctions that include faculty excellence, return on investment, value added and career services. Six of the college’s professors are listed in the Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors book. Located in Terre Haute, Indiana, Rose-Hulman has an enrollment of approximately 2,200 undergraduate students and nearly 100 graduate students. Learn more at www.rose-hulman.edu.